There is a fairly widespread belief held in musical circles that you can judge the true value of practically any musician or singer by the kind of artistic company he keeps, and the kind of music with which he is associated. When not used in a pretentious manner, it’s a statement which does bear some validity. Joe Loss has been a bandleader now for more than 50 years and throughout this extraordinarily lengthy career invariably Joe has been close to, and surrounded himself with, first-class musicianship. At the same time he has usually managed to find the choicest morsels amongst trends which have occurred through the years.
One musical form which has continued to delight Joe Loss since he first became aware of its beguiling rhythms, lovely melodies and subtle harmonies, is the Bossa Nova originating, of course, from that colourful, sprawling country called Brazil. Joe was enchanted with the music of such as Jobim, Bonfa, the Gilbertos, Baden Powell and de Moraes, when it and they first attained full international recognition in the early 1960’s – as indeed he was delighted with the efforts of non-Brazilians like Stan Getz, Charlie Byrd, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Hornell and Quincy Jones in interpreting Bossa Nova so sympathetically and meaningfully …
It is not really surprising then to find that well over a decade after its emergence the Bossa Nova remains as appealing to someone like Joe Loss, as indeed it does to you and me. It is not surprising neither that Joe should want to become involved with an album as musically and artistically worth-while as this one.
With his abounding admiration for the best in musicianship, it is to be expected that, along with his own fine musicians – like trumpeters Vic Mustard and Stan Pickstock, trombonist Sam Whatnough, saxist-flautist-clarinettist Bill Brown, guitarist Lee Fothergill, bassist Joe Quinlan and drummer Bill Eyden – he has chosen scream-of-the-crop selection of top session men like terrorists Duncan Lamont and Keith Bird, saxist-flautist Roy Willcox, guitarist Ike Isaacs and trombonist Don Lusher to interpret this beautiful music so eloquently.
The choice of material which Joe Loss & Co. have used could hardly be faulted – any such album containing Bossa classics such as Desafinado and The girl from Ipanema (a solo feature for the persuasive tenor-sax of Duncan Lamont) can’t be at all bad. And the inclusion of such fine contemporary songs like You are the sunshine of my life, Killing me softly with his song, We’ve only just begun and (They long to be) Close to you detracts not one iota from the overall quality of what is, a uniformly rewarding album. And the most recent compositions – Big Band Bossa, Sweetie and Listen to the rhythm – add a further lustre to proceedings.
Just see if you can resist the potent combination of Joe Loss and the Bossa Nova. Bet you can’t!
Label: MFP 50202
Photograph: Paul Antony
Sleeve Design: David Wharin